29 April, 2010

Relationship between sin and salvation

(Dannyboy) Where do you base what a "mortal sin" is, in God's Word?

(Cristoiglesia) The following is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1854 Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture,129 became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience.

1855 Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.

1856 Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us - that is, charity - necessitates a new initiative of God's mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation:
When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object . . . whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery. . . . But when the sinner's will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.130

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."131

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother."132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

1862 One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.

1863 Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul's progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God's grace it is humanly reparable. "Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness."134
While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call "light": if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession.135

1864 "Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."136 There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit.137 Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss.


1865 Sin creates a proclivity to sin; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil. Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense at its root.

1866 Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called "capital" because they engender other sins, other vices.138 They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia.

1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are "sins that cry to heaven": the blood of Abel,139 the sin of the Sodomites,140 the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt,141 the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan,142 injustice to the wage earner.143

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
- by protecting evil-doers.

1869 Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. "Structures of sin" are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a "social sin."144


1870 "God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all" (Rom 11:32
1871 Sin is an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law (St. Augustine, Faust 22: PL 42, 418). It is an offense against God. It rises up against God in a disobedience contrary to the obedience of Christ.

1872 Sin is an act contrary to reason. It wounds man's nature and injures human solidarity.

1873 The root of all sins lies in man's heart. The kinds and the gravity of sins are determined principally by their objects.

1874 To choose deliberately - that is, both knowing it and willing it - something gravely contrary to the divine law and to the ultimate end of man is to commit a mortal sin. This destroys in us the charity without which eternal beatitude is impossible. Unrepented, it brings eternal death.

1875 Venial sin constitutes a moral disorder that is reparable by charity, which it allows to subsist in us.

1876 The repetition of sins - even venial ones - engenders vices, among which are the capital sins.
113 Cf. Lk 15.
114 Mt 1:21.
115 Mt 26:28.
116 St. Augustine, Sermo 169, 11, 13: PL 38, 923.
117 1 Jn 8-9.
118 Rom 5:20.
119 Rom 5:21.
120 John Paul II, DeV 31 # 2.
121 St. Augustine, Contra Faustum 22: PL 42, 418; St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II, 71, 6.
122 Ps 51:4.
123 Gen 3:5.
124 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 14, 28: PL 41, 436.
125 Cf. Phil 2:6-9.
126 Cf. Jn 14:30.
127 Gal 5:19-21; CE Rom 1:28-32; 1 Cor 9-10; EPh 5:3-5; Col 3:5-8; 1 Tim 9-10; 2 Tim 2-5.
128 Mt 15:19-20.
129 Cf. 1 Jn 16-17.
130 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II, 88, 2, corp. art.
131 RP 17 # 12.
132 Mk 10:19.
133 Cf. Mk 3:5-6; Lk 16:19-31.
134 John Paul II, RP 17 # 9.
135 St. Augustine, In ep. Jo. 1, 6: PL 35, 1982.
136 Mt 12:31; cf. Mk 3:29; Lk 12:10.
137 Cf. John Paul II, DeV 46.
138 Cf. St. Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job, 31, 45: PL 76, 621A.
139 Cf. Gen 4:10.
140 Cf. Gen 18:20; 19:13.
141 Cf. Ex 3:7-10.
142 Cf. Ex 20:20-22.
143 Cf. Deut 24:14-15; Jas 5:4.
144 John Paul II, RP 16.

(Dannyboy) Or, once we receive Christ, that we even in order to attain forgiveness from future sins?

(Cristoiglesia) Some say that justification is a legal act of God in which He declares the sinner to be worthy of heaven even though he continues to be a sinful creature. In this view of justification there is no internal renewal or real sanctification whether instant or through a lifelong process but simply an external application of the justice of Christ.

To Catholic Christians and many other Christians, justification is understood differently. We understand from Scriptures that justification is not the covering of sin but the eradication and the beginning of true sanctification and simultaneous renewal. The soul is transformed into goodness instead of being a sinful soul with sins covered by Christ’s blood. We see Scriptures saying that forgiveness results in a complete removal of sins. The only time the Bible mentions the covering of sin is in the context of one man’s sin being forgiven by another. One should note that we have no power to forgive another’s sin, therefore the context is that we do all we can and cover or overlook those sins against us. In relation to God and His removal of sin the Scriptures use quite different terminology such as “blot out”, “blotting out”, “clears away” and “takes away”.

Catholics see justification as a rebirth and supernatural life in a former sinner:

(Joh 3:5 DRB) Jesus answered: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

(Tit 3:5 DRB) Not by the works of justice which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the laver of regeneration and renovation of the Holy Ghost.

That creates an inner renewal of the soul:

(Eph 4:23 DRB) And be renewed in spirit of your mind:

Resulting in complete sanctification:

(1Co 6:11 DRB) And such some of you were. But you are washed: but you are sanctified: but you are justified: in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God.

Through this glorious process initiated by God’s grace the soul becomes beautiful, holy and worthy of heaven where nothing unclean is allowed. It is not an ugly sinful soul hidden under the blood of Jesus but instead one sanctified by Him and created anew for His glory.

(Dannyboy) I would argue that repentance (concerning salvation) is a one time thing, whereby we are given the promise of eternal life.

(Cristoiglesia) Many people seem to think that all they have to do is in a moment of emotion and/or reason ascent to recognition of Christ being their savior and their salvation to eternal life is assured. From that point forward it makes no difference that their life is changed and they will live differently. The only thing that has changed is that evil in their lives as displayed outwardly and lived inwardly no longer has an effect on their eternity as their one act of acceptance has made them immune to the actions of their sins at judgment and obligated God to accept them into His presence. Some will go so far as to say that one's sinfulness and evil has nothing to do with the value of their souls before God because even the most evil, sinful soul is covered rather than purified by Christ's atonement. It would appear that these people are saying that Christ's atonement is a method or sinister plan to allow sin in the presence of God draped in a covering of righteousness to conceal the evil within and that salvation is assured regardless of the state of their souls.

The question comes immediately to mind, how one can come to such conclusions considering the context of the body of Scriptures that contradict such a notion. I believe that it all comes down to one verse which is unique in all of Scripture that depicts Christ as a personal savior dependent on one’s inner conviction. All other Scriptures depict only salvation through the Church saying that He died for us, meaning the Church. St. Paul certainly taught this as he practiced seeking salvation through Christ's Church.

Here is the Scripture which through the eisegesis of some causes misunderstanding:

(Gal 2:20 DRB) And I live, now not I: but Christ liveth in me. And that I live now in the flesh: I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and delivered himself for me.

Some take this verse to mean that one need only repent and turn to God with the heart of a little child and their salvation is assured.

(Joh 3:3 DRB) Jesus answered and said to him: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Catholics see salvation quite differently than those who think that covering one’s sins is enough to enter the presence of God. We recognize that Christ has redeemed us on the cross and unlocked the gates of heaven and that redemption is not the same as salvation but instead a prelude to salvation. In order for us to receive salvation we must cooperate by being spiritually alive. Our soul cannot be in a natural state when we die to receive salvation and no covering of its sinfulness will be enough to hide what is beneath, a soul without the sanctifying grace cannot enter heaven. If, at death, the soul is sanctified then there is no doubt of heaven even if that soul needs to go to the purification of purgatory. Only souls that are indeed good and pleasing to God by being full of His sanctifying grace will merit heaven. It is the state of the soul at death that merits heaven and this fact emphasizes why we need God’s ongoing grace in our lives to persevere to the end.

(Dannyboy) Certainly, we can repent (change course) and turn to God throughout our lives, but none of it is pending or meriting salvation, which has already been granted when we first repented, and believed, whereby we were saved.

(Cristoiglesia) I contend that Scriptures cannot be reconciled with the Calvinist inspired belief in OSAS. OSAS is certainly a doctrine from hell saying that one cannot fall away from the faith regardless of their sinfulness. That all that is required is a one time emotional recognition of Christ and they are forever justified, sanctified and saved for all eternity. They can remain sinful creatures in reality but Christ’s blood will cover that sin so that they can be smuggled into heaven as a dirty sinful soul. Yet the person who is not a sinful person has no hope of heaven unless he has this one emotional recognition of Christ. That would tend to make one question the just nature of God.

Let us start out with Romans 10 that Calvinists use to prove OSAS and site verses 14-17. They read as follows:

(Rom 10:14 DRB) How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

(Rom 10:15 DRB) And how shall they preach unless they be sent, as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things?

(Rom 10:16 DRB) But all do not obey the gospel. For Isaias saith: Lord, who hath believed our report?

(Rom 10:17 DRB) Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ.

Obviously these verses have nothing to do with Calvin’s doctrine of eternal security but instead speak of our commission by Christ to spread the Gospel.

Calvinists will then offer as proof John 6 verses 37-40. They read as follows:

(Joh 6:37 DRB) All that the Father giveth to me shall come to me: and him that cometh to me, I will not cast out.

(Joh 6:38 DRB) Because I came down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him that sent me.

(Joh 6:39 DRB) Now this is the will of the Father who sent me: that of all that he hath given me, I should lose nothing; but should raise it up again in the last day.

(Joh 6:40 DRB) And this is the will of my Father that sent me: that every one who seeth the Son and believeth in him may have life everlasting. And I will raise him up in the last day.

There are a couple of things being taught here. First of all Jesus is making it clear that He is not working independently from the Father but is within the will of the Father. Secondly, Jesus was giving assurance of all that come to Him that if they trust in Him and believe that they can rely in Him to overcome the snares of Satan which could cause them to fall away. They are not immune to the seduction of temptation but through the grace given by Christ may endure to the end. If one was to try to use these verses to support OSAS they would have to acknowledge the meaning here to be in support of universal salvation. Theses verses do not support OSAS or universal salvation.

The following is a posting of a portion of John 6:44-45 used to support OSAS. It reads as follows:

(Joh 6:44 DRB) No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him. And I will raise him up in the last day.

(Joh 6:45 DRB) It is written in the prophets: And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard of the Father and hath learned cometh forth me.

Again these verses do not support universal salvation as they may appear nor do they support OSAS. In verse 44 Jesus is affirming that it is the Father through the Holy Spirit that brings people to faith and is relating to the teaching of the prophet Isaiah who speaks of the law being written on each person’s heart that is surrendered to for initial salvation. Jesus is reminding us that it is God’s grace and the Spirit in harmony with the Father that initiates salvation and does not come only from a response within ourselves as a result of free will.

In verse 45 is actually presenting prophecy about the Messianic kingdom where people will be taught directly by God and was referring directly to the following prophecies:

(Isa 54:13 DRB) All thy children shall be taught of the Lord: and great shall be the peace of thy children.

(Jer 31:31 DRB) Behold the days shall come, saith the Lord, and I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Juda:

(Jer 31:32 DRB) Not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, the covenant which they made void, and I had dominion over them, saith the Lord.

(Jer 31:33 DRB) But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord: I will give my law in their bowels, and I will write it in their heart: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

(Jer 31:34 DRB) And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying: Know the Lord: for all shall know me from the least of them even to the greatest, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Again, neither Jesus nor the prophets are teaching universal salvation or OSAS in verse 45. Jesus is speaking that not mere hearing of the Word is enough but we must learn what the Word of God teaches. We are taught by the prophets, by the apostles and their successors through the Church, by Sacred Tradition which contains the written and oral teaching of God and by the gift of discernment from the Spirit. We must open ourselves to all of these to receive the truth as all of these are God’s gift to humanity so that we may endure to eternity.

Calvinists often use the following as proof texts: John 10:27-30 to support OSAS. Here is what they say:

(Joh 10:27 DRB) My sheep hear my voice. And I know them: and they follow me.

(Joh 10:28 DRB) And I give them life everlasting: and they shall not perish for ever. And no man shall pluck them out of my hand.

(Joh 10:29 DRB) That which my Father hath given me is greater than all: and no one can snatch them out of the hand of my Father.

(Joh 10:30 DRB) I and the Father are one.

The verses provided refer to Jesus’ previous discourse before the festival. He explains who His sheep are. He describes His sheep as follows:

1. Those who hear His voice in faith.
2. Who are known by God as loving Him.
3. Those who follow Him by keeping His commandments.

Jesus goes on to say that those who meet His three conditions also receive three promises:

1. I give them eternal life. (Please note that He did not say, “I will” give them, which would indicate that they must continue in a state of ongoing sanctification and belief.)
2. It is provisional on their abiding in God’s love that they will receive the gift of eternal life.
3. Those that continue to believe and follow Christ and endure to final salvation are assured of eternal life. A perseverance to believe, love, and obey God is necessary to abide in the assurance in the hand of God.

These verses do not support the lawlessness of OSAS

Continuing we are given the following verses in the book of Acts 10 verses 34-45 as support for OSAS:

(Act 10:34 DRB) And Peter opening his mouth, said: in very deed I perceive that God is not a respecter of persons.

(Act 10:35 DRB) But in every nation, he that feareth him and worketh justice is acceptable to him.

(Act 10:36 DRB) God sent the word to the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all).

(Act 10:37 DRB) You know the word which hath been published through all Judea: for it began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached.

(Act 10:38 DRB) Jesus of Nazareth: how God anointed him with the Holy Ghost and with power, who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

(Act 10:39 DRB) And we are witnesses of all things that he did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem: whom they killed, hanging him upon a tree.

(Act 10:40 DRB) Him God raised up the third day and gave him to be made manifest,

(Act 10:41 DRB) Not to all the people, but to witnesses preordained by God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him, after he arose again from the dead.

(Act 10:42 DRB) And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that it is he who was appointed by God to be judge of the living and of the dead.

(Act 10:43 DRB) To him all the prophets give testimony, that by his name all receive remission of sins, who believe in him.

(Act 10:44 DRB) While Peter was yet speaking these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word.

(Act 10:45 DRB) And the faithful of the circumcision, who came with Peter, were astonished for that the grace of the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the Gentiles also.

In these verses we see the greater message of the struggle of St. Peter over the issue of Gentile converts with the passage ending with both Cornelius and St Peter realizing that they were dependent on each other: Cornelius needed St Peter to receive the Gospel message and know the way to salvation. Peter needed Cornelius and his salvation experience to realize that the Gentiles were included in God’s plan for salvation.

Verses 37-43 contain one of St. Peter’s greatest sermons stating the Gospel. It includes the servanthood of Jesus, death on the cross and resurrection which he personally experienced. He emphasized the fulfillment of Scriptures by Christ as well as the necessity of ongoing belief in Him. While these verses are some of my personal favorites they do nothing to support a belief in OSAS.

The following are in the book of Acts 15, verses 7-9 that Calvinists claim support OSAS:

(Act 15:7 DRB) And when there had been much disputing, Peter, rising up, said to them: Men, brethren, you know that in former days God made choice among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.

(Act 15:8 DRB) And God, who knoweth the hearts, gave testimony, giving unto them the Holy Ghost, as well as to us:

(Act 15:9 DRB) And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

These verses have nothing to do with OSAS and do not support it in any way but instead deal with the Gentiles coming to faith. It does indicate the Episcopal structure of the Church and is an account of the first Ecumenical Council of the Church held in Jerusalem.

(1Co 9:27 DRB) But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.

Verse 27 is recognized by skilled exegetes as one of the best texts at showing us the true biblical teaching of election and reprobation. I brings into focus that no one has been absolute and unconditionally elected to eternal life. Neither does it show that one is absolutely and unconditionally predestined to eternal death. What it does show is that Christians are to enjoy the privileges of being Christian on earth but if they abuse their privilege even though elect they will be among the reprobate. If anyone was among the elect I believe most Christians would agree that St. Paul would be one, but yet he declares that he feared being among the reprobate himself. He makes it clear to each of us that nothing can keep us from the seduction of temptation that can cause us to sin and that we must also strengthen the flesh and make it the slave of our spirit in righteousness, so that neither the flesh nor the spirit will betray our goal to remain among the elect. St. Paul’s message is, it is not enough to run the race well and to be judged to have fallen short of our goal of eternal life.

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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